Marriage Monday “The Akinnuoyes”

This month’s edition of Marriage Monday is brought to you by The Akinnuoye Family

Michael and I met on his birthday, July 16th, in 2010. I had just moved to Maryland from Tennessee and was working in the mall while I got situated in a new state. Mike came in to buy shoes for him and his brothers for a party, I clearly did not know that this was the case as I gave him much attitude for asking for 3 different sizes. Imagine my frustration on a Friday night at almost closing time with this guy being indecisive (reasons why retail isn’t for me.) Anyways, he finally is ready to check out and makes small talk, asks me what I do for fun etc., when he finds I am new to Maryland and don’t have much of a social life, he asks me to let him take me out sometime. He gives me his number-because I was not “thirsty” and declined to give him mine. From that day, it was history. We texted the next day (Ok, so what I texted him the next day, I wanted to see how the party was) for like the entire 24 hours, and set up our first date.

Fast forward 3 years at my birthday party, Mike gets on one knee and asks me if I would be his wife. This was the day I had dreamed of, of course I said yes. We planned a beautiful Nigerian ceremony which was held on May 22,2015 and we had our traditional white wedding ceremony and reception on May 24,2015 in Pasadena, Maryland outdoor with beautiful views of the Chesapeake Bay. I felt and looked like a queen and seeing the joy in my husband’s eyes as I walked down the aisle was a moment not to be forgotten. We honeymooned in Honolulu, Hawaii before returning to Baltimore where we would begin our new life as one.

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Now comes the real part. Almost three months after our honeymoon we find out that we are expecting!!! We were so very happy, we had always planned for a family, but not so soon! A million things went through my mind, we must move, we need a bigger house, will I be a stay at home mom, are we ready financially? Am I ready mentally? Little did I know; our honeymoon phase was ending and we would enter the hardest part of our marriage- THE FIRST YEAR and PARENTING.

Mike and I will be celebrating our second wedding anniversary next month and we are going to CELEBRATE! We feel that we have accomplished a major feat; we have learned so much about one another and it has literally taken me two years to learn how to communicate effectively. My dad always told me the key to a happy marriage is good sex and better communication (yeah, my dad and I are pretty close lol) I had to learn that it is ok to say how you feel and to let your husband know you need help, or in some cases you need attention. Don’t get me wrong, motherhood has been nothing short of amazing and surreal, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you understand. But when you are a working coupe, life gets to be very hard and romance easily slips away it is a DAILY FIGHT to keep things going. Monday through Friday is the same thing- go to work, come home, cook dinner, play with the baby, put the baby to bed, clean up, shower yourself and go to bed. When the weekend finally comes, all you want to do is relax, also known as do absolutely nothing. Notice, there was no mention of date night or spending quality time with your mate.

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After much prayer and intentional conversations with Mike, we have come together to make our marriage more intimate, transparent and fun. Here is what we came up with:

1. We go to bed together, no matter what- Mike works a lot of evenings. He is self-employed so he can stay at home with our daughter on days she isn’t with her grandmother. Other days he is in meetings, so evenings are for admin work and reviewing things etc. This means he sometimes eats dinner late and falls asleep on the couch. Now, I wait for him to eat and if he falls asleep, I wake him to come to bed.

2. We have date night- even if we go for a walk around the neighborhood or get lucky enough to get a sitter we go to dinner. If I am lucky, he goes to the mall with me (lol). We also have established the “Brunch Squad.” Sundays after church we brunch as a family, that way we have some family time once a week regardless of how hectic the week has been.

3. We talk about EVERYTHING- he has always been great at communicating and expressing his feelings (he is in the mental health profession so he has experience) I however, am the “nothing is wrong” and “I am ok” type. No more; Even if I am mad that he left his coffee spoon on the counter again, for the 500th time causing my OCD to kick in, I say something about it. He has agreed that it is not nagging.

4. Lastly, we decided our life does not revolve around our child. Yes, she is the apple of our eyes, our heartbeats, our reason for breathing but one day she will be a teenager who wants us to leave her alone, also prayerfully she will one day be married with her own family. Where will that leave us? TOGETHER, the two of us, like we started. So, we will continue to invest in our marriage and date one another while creating a loving home for her.

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If you are married, you are familiar with the age-old question you get every day “How is married life?” My answer was and STILL is: “Marriage is not easy. However, when you are blessed with a help mate, a best friend and someone who lives to love you and make you happy, the challenges are easier to handle and your good days, which believe it or not DO outweigh the bad, are so much better.”

 

Chauntelle Akinnuoye

Hula Hoop Date Night

I’m a firm believer in the thought that everything happens for a reason! When Anthony and I started Weeknight Date Night I had no clue how many amazing people we’d meet. We had our first edition of Weeknight Date Night was on Thursday, June 2nd 2016, and since then it’s been a crazy ride. Our second date night was “field day” in our backyard. The day of the field day date I went to Dollar General and threw a whole bunch of random items in my cart. One of the items was a hula hoop (well actually 4 hula hoops). Fast forward to a couple of months ago I was having a meeting with two friends to plan a community service event, and we talked about having a luau and mentioned hula hoops. I quickly said I have the hula hoops. A week later, one of my friends from the meeting found a hula hoop class online and asked if I’d like to attend. Like I said everything happens for a reason.

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That brings me to this week’s edition of Weeknight Date Night. It was selected by me, and we took a hula hoop class from the crazy talented Dajanae Cole. She meet Anthony and I at our house and we walked to a park in our neighborhood. She turned on some music and we started. One of us is a natural and the other one is just not good at all. I won’t say any names, but Anthony needed more of Dajanae’s time than I did. We quickly discovered that Anthony did better when she played Wiggle. Yep, that song. I’m very embarrassed and he should be too, but sometimes you have to conquer things by any means necessary. Dajanae taught us some fun tricks including dancing with the hula hoop, doing squats and other exercising methods, and a few arm tricks to name a few.

I’ve previously talked about “nuggets” that we get during our dates. This one was no different. We got a great nugget from listening to Dajanae simply speak about her life. She’s one of those people who lights up a room and you can easily tell within minutes that she’s one of the special ones. She talked about her life from CA all the way to TN and how she’s overcome some of life’s situations. Naturally a person with a light as bright as hers is setting the world on fire by helping others.

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She’s in the early stages of hula hoop classes, but if you have a group outing and would like for her to teach a class you can contact her HERE! Anthony and I had a great time spending the afternoon in the park hula-hooping , but we had an even better time getting to know Dajanae a little more.

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Dajanae has lived in Nashville for two years, but she’s originally from CA. One of her core values is FUN! Dajanae started hula-hooping for fun and enjoys getting to share the fun of hula-hooping with anyone who wants to join. She loves to see people take risk and step outside their comfort zones. Dajanae appreciates seeing adults pick up hula hooping and embrace the kid inside of them. She recently had her first hula-hooping class, and it went well. She plans on doing more in the future.

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Until next time loves…

“Truth Tuesday” Mom and Match.com

If you’ve ever been around me for longer than 30 minutes you’ve heard me mention my mom. Our relationship is pretty amazing! We talk every day and most days we chat multiple times. Her coworkers know my voice, because I call her office so often. Every conversation isn’t lengthy. We usually save those one to two hour conversations for Saturday mornings (after I talk to my two nieces). She’s a fixer! Yep, she’s my real life Olivia Pope. But the problem with having a mom that’s a fixer is that she attempts to fix EVERYTHING!!!

W.O Smith Music School Wedding in Downtown Nashville

The year was 2010, and I was in a very weird place. I HATED my job, I was always angry, I was going through a transitional phase with friends, and I was 27 and questioning myself because I had yet to experience a romantic relationship. My daily routine consisted of going to work and being extremely miserable for the 10-12 hours I was there. I would call my mom on my way home and some days cry simply because I was thinking of having to get up and do it all over again the next day. In addition to her listening to me ramble about my dead-end job, she also had to hear me vent about my love life (or lack thereof).

W.O Smith Music School Wedding in Downtown Nashville

My mom would start sending me jobs she saw here in Nashville (she lives in Minnesota). And what did my very own Olivia Pope do to fix my love life crisis? SHE SIGNED ME UP FOR MATCH.COM! I mean she legit created me a page/profile (whatever it is they call it). First of all, NO SHADE to anyone that has, is currently or will use a dating website in the future. They work for some people. I remember her saying that she left a few questions blank because she felt it was better for me to fill those out myself…thanks mom!

W.O Smith Music School Wedding in Downtown Nashville

I’ll never forget her calling me with her voice full of cheer telling me to check my email. My mom is a VERY giving person so “check your email” usually means there is a tracking number for some type of gift she’s ordered me. This time I checked my email I saw a Match.com profile. It’s one of those moments when you talk to God, the Universe, the birds and the trees and say LISTEN, I apologize for whatever it is I did in the past. PLEASE undo this curse!!!

W.O Smith Music School Wedding in Downtown Nashville

After I cried and cried and cried I looked over the profile and then took a look at some of the guys on the site. I tried to finish my profile, but I just couldn’t do it. It was like admitting that this was now my life, and at that point I just wasn’t ready to concede. I eventually thanked my mom and told her it wasn’t something I was comfortable with doing. I then deleted my profile.

W.O Smith Music School Wedding in Downtown Nashville

Remember in last week’s “Truth Tuesday” I told you I learned how to give and receive love from my mom. But even the best parents have limitations and romantic love is one of them. No matter how much they love you they can’t give you romantic love. I don’t think I’ll fully understand the magnitude of my mom’s gesture of love (signing me up for Match.com) until I have children of my own. I do appreciate the gesture within the confines of where my life is now, but I know when I become a mother it will be a full circle moment.

W.O Smith Music School Wedding in Downtown Nashville

We just celebrated Mother’s Day and with me and my mom being MILES apart we rarely see each other on that day, but this year she was sitting at my house with me watching a great basketball game. We went to pick up some bbq and then continued to watch the game and chat. It may sound pretty low-key, but when you only get to see your mom 2-3 times a year those low-key moments are the BEST!  

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Cheers to all the moms that double as fixers!!! We love you and wouldn’t be the amazing people we are without you. 

Until next time loves…

 

Ballet Date Night and Guys’ Night Out

When I was younger I joined Girl Scouts. Well, actually I never made it to Girl Scouts. I was only a Brownie. I went to one or two meetings, and I told my mom I no longer wanted to go. I told her that instead I wanted to do ballet. She took me out of Girl Scouts and enrolled me in ballet. To this day I still have a soft spot in my heart for ballet. I feel such a connection when I watch it. Last year, Anthony and I saw the Alvin Ailey Ballet Company in Atlanta. It was an incredible show, and I definitely connected with the dancers. This lead’s me to this week’s edition of Weeknight Date Night. It was selected by Anthony and we went to the Nashville Ballet for a media preview of their “7 Deadly Sins” show.

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With Anthony and I dating weekly, we have a mixed bag of dates. For some of the dates we have to get dressed up. We all know that sometimes a lot goes into looking good. A few months ago Anthony mentioned that he wanted to start growing out his beard. He started to do some research and find some products to use. As we all know buying products for grooming can be hit or miss, and realistically, you might have to kiss a few frog before you find “the one”.

A couple months ago I met with James, the co-founder of a company called ShaveFace. The company was started by two best friends James and Casey, because they were tired of getting subpar shaves and having to buy razors on a weekly basis. They wanted to ensure they were providing quality product as well as useful tips for men’s grooming. Although the name of the company is ShaveFace they have products for all stages of men’s grooming. Their products are all natural. This was important to them! They started a kick starter campagin in 2015 and since then have been featured on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Thrillist and Uncrate.

Anthony received a box of products from ShaveFace and he was very pleased. He has been using the products for months and has received favorable results regarding his beard. Since our date was at the ballet, he wanted to make sure he was on point and took some of the ShaveFace products to his barber to get “cleaned up” before the date. He went to his barbershop Clipper City Barbers to get ready for the date. The barbershop is a place for guys to get together and be just be guys. Anthony wanted to tell his friends about the ShaveFace products so they all got together for a guys’ night out to catch up. The day wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t have some whiskey to go with it.  We’re in Tennessee who doesn’t love a little whiskey?

The guys are ShaveFace have provided yall with a discount code to get some great products! Please use the discount code CLIPPERCITY to receive 20% off your purchases. But wait there’s more! ShaveFace is also giving away a set to one lucky reader!!!

To enter the contest please follow the following steps.

  1. Follow @love_at_any_stage on IG
  2. Follow @shaveface on IG
  3. Comment your fav thing about a man’s beard. (comment on HutchStew’s black and white picture from Wednesday May 10)

The next day Anthony and I headed to the Nashville Ballet for their “Seven Deadly Sins” show. To see the Seven Deadly Sins “come to life” was great. The saw also featured a band that played/sang a different song for each sin. I definitely felt a connection with the show and the dancers, and I could feel the passion exuding from them. Their lines and angles were on point and the show truly took you away.

After the ballet, Anthony and I had dinner and discussed the show a little deeper. We both talked about how amazing it was and the connection we felt. We then wanted to have a little fun and talked about which one of us was mostly likely to display one of the sins. Below is the list of the Seven Deadly Sins.

  1. Pride
  2. Greed
  3. Envy
  4. Sloth
  5. Gluttony
  6. Lust
  7. Wrath

Click HERE to take a look at the Nashville Ballet’s upcoming events. Trust me you don’t want to miss out!!!

Don’t forget to enter the ShaveFace contest and also use the discount code CLIPPERCITY to receive 20% off your purchases.

Until next time loves…

 

 

“Truth Tuesday” Before HutchStew We Were Just Ordinary People

Before HutchStew We Were Just Ordinary People

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I’ve talked about John Legend’s song “Ordinary People” numerous times. The song is so relatable, and it pulls you in from the first line. “Girl I’m in love with you, this ain’t the honeymoon, we’re passed the infatuation phase.” After that first line, I’m shouting very emotionally while driving. (Admit it you do that too!) Anthony and I are in a really great space in our relationship, but before we became HutchStew we were just ordinary people.

We had our first date November 2010. We stumbled through that date and then proceeded to stumble through the next 2.5 years. To say the first 2.5 years was terrible is truly an understatement. One of us was immature and the other one was merely imitating relationships they’d witnessed by watching fragmented people. Trust me that combo was an impossible environment for a healthy relationship to bloom. Through those 2.5 years we were ordinary people, and we didn’t know which way to go. The second verse of the song says, “I hang up, you call. We rise and we fall. And we feel like just walking away. As our love advances we take second chances. Though it’s not a fantasy I still want you to stay.

Confession, I was the one that was imitating fragmented people. My parents never married one another. Although I know how to give and receive love because of my mother, growing up I didn’t have any positive marriages around me. To add fuel to the fire Anthony was my first relationship, and because I was in my late 20s with no experience I used familiar relationships as my guide. But I quickly realized my “guides” we’re fragmented therefore I was destined to fail. I’d hang up, he’d call and then I’d walk away (countless times). It definitely wasn’t a fantasy (more like a nightmare), but these two ordinary people kept at it.

Confession #2, Anthony was the immature one, but probably not in the way you think. He’s truly a southern gentlemen. He says yes ma’am, no sir, please and thank you. He holds open doors and pulls out chairs. He had a job at the time we started being ordinary people, but he lacked the maturity to see what the future held. Immature not to realize his full potential. Immature to not realize that sometimes nice guys finish FIRST! Immature not to comprehend that he could have it all and not have to continue to take it slow.

So, when did two ordinary people get their act together and start the transformation into HutchStew? Honestly, I don’t know! I remember one day we were no longer stumbling through life, but we slowly started to hold hands and take steps forward together. But just as the song says, “sometimes it was heaven sent. Then we’d head back to hell again, we’d kiss and make up on the way.”

The funniest thing is through all those trips back and forth to heaven and hell there was never a doubt that one day we’d get it together. And maybe that notion is what held us together when neither of us were equipped to do it ourselves. We were two ordinary people that had love for each other, but had no clue how to create love together. I always say love is a space created by two people. Well back then we created a space, but it was never love. We had tons of love for one another, but we couldn’t manage to manifest it to happen together. Until both of us were on the same page we rose and fell and continued to walk away.

Although we hadn’t created that pure space of love somehow marriage came to the table. Since we still weren’t equipped we decided to go to counseling to figure things out before a ring was purchased. Those sessions were gritty, suffocating, honest, untrue (yeah both), finger pointing, reflective and for me pointless (at least that’s how I felt at the time). I ended the sessions because we weren’t getting anywhere (So I thought).

And as I hold this pen in my hand writing these words…it JUST hit me! After the smoke cleared from counseling we “turned the corner”. We still weren’t ready to build a space of love, but instead a space to grow. We had grown over those 2.5 years but not together. The catalyst for the growth was communication. If we learned nothing else form the sessions we learned how to be better communicators. With the foundation of communication set we were two people creating a space of love. At that point, I felt differently and it was an amazing feeling. From then on, our relationship had a different identity and we started to shed the title of being ordinary people. We bonded and started to operate as a team. We learned to lean on one another and figure things out together. There were missteps along the way but by then we were equipped with how to handle tough situations without running away.

So, people see the pictures and posts and say HutchStew is relationship goals. HutchStew is the privileged cousin that naturally “gets it”. Honestly, HutchStew shouldn’t be relationship goals. Those goals should be reserved for the ordinary people that are “right in the thick of love, at times they get sick of love and seem like they argue every day”. More couples should respect and appreciate their struggle!

I’m grateful for our time as ordinary people, but I’m so blessed that we have elevated to HutchStew. Because the problem with ordinary people is they don’t know which way to go!

 

The Frist Center Highlights Irving Penn

There’s an undeniable energy in the room when you gather a group of creatives. That energy was definitely present the night a few female bloggers gathered for an exclusive tour of The Frist Center’s Irving Penn Exhibit. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Penn, he was a world-renowned Vogue Photographer. He worked as an artist for 60+ years providing the world with exquisite and trial blazing pieces. It’s been said that every artist experiences different periods during the time of creating. For me Penn’s “nude” period spoke to me the most. Before Irving Penn met his wife, he did a personal project shooting nudes of fleshy, curvy women. As a creative I tend to connect even if on a small level with anything artistic. Music is my favorite form of art, because I’m able to get completely wrapped in the melodies and harmonies of a great song. Let’s not forget the lyrics and how one minute they can slap you in the face but the next verse you’re pining for what could’ve been. To me music is like pairing the perfect wine with a meal. My meal is life and my fine wine is music and on the occasion when they perfectly collide I’m taken to another place. A similar place to what I experienced being fully engulfed in Irving Penn’s work.

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Most people who are one of the tops of their crafts are usually ahead of the trend. Walking through the Penn’s exhibit at The Frist Center I saw so many things that are  relevant now and it made me appreciate him and his work because he saw what others couldn’t see during his time. We’re all over saturated with images now a days and let’s face it the “pretty” ones get the most attention (in our case attention equals likes). How many women are at home comparing themselves to the next woman on the gram? I’ll answer…too many to count! What I loved about Penn’s nude pieces were that they were of women in their natural state. Yep, no Nashville filter for these ladies just them being one with their body and not being ashamed for what that meant to others.

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To give you a little back story about the nudes, Penn started photographing these women in the summer of 1949. He showed it to a colleague and the colleague was not blown away. The colleague took Penn’s work to the Grand Dean of American Photographers, Edward Steichen and he told Penn to basically “forget the nudes”.  It took until a 1980 show before Penn showed any of the nudes. Currently, the photographs are hanging at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. There are 53 pictures and they’re titled by number. The unique thing is they start off with more petite women and the models curves increase as the numbers increase.

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So, the next time you’re standing in front of the mirror picking out your flaws take some time to Google Penn’s nudes and let that be your inspiration to love yourself no matter what size and shape you are. Be proud to be a woman who possesses such grace and power!

Irving Penn’s work is currently at The Frist Center and because I love my readers so much I have BOGO (Buy One Get One Free) tickets to the Frist Center courtesy of the amazing folks at Urbannite. I’ve told you about Penn’s nudes, but there are so many other amazing pieces by Penn currently hanging in the Frist Center.

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Be sure to download your tickets HERE and go visit the exhibit before it’s gone.

Until next time loves…

Batting Cages Date Night

As a kid growing up in the 90s you could find me spending my summer playing softball and watching my Cubbies on WGN. Shout out to my favorite player Mark Grace! Last season the Chicago Cubs broke a 108 year losing streak and won the World Series. Like so many other faithful fans I had waited on that moment for years! A few weeks ago Anthony and I had a basketball date. I told you that I became obsessed with the LA Lakers because of my mom. Well, I became a Cubs fan because of my granddad. Our family would live for the Cubs’ game each summer and sing along with Harry Carey during the 7th inning stretch. Along with watching the Chicago Cubs play, I played softball every summer. I started playing when I was 8 and played until I was 18. Those 10 years were pretty amazing. The majority of my softball career I played left field due to my speed. My team travelled during the summer playing in softball tournaments that usually lasted all day Saturday and some were even two-day tournaments. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. I haven’t yet hit that age where I feel I’m too old to do things I did when I was a kid. Let’s face it I probably NEVER will!

That leads us to this week’s edition of Weeknight Date Night, and it was selected by me.  Anthony and I went to the batting cages. It was such a rainy week, but I was determined to still have our date. We travelled to one batting cage, but it was outside and due to rain it was closed. One of the things we’ve learned with dating every week is that you HAVE TO BE FLEXIBLE! We both sat in the car in the parking lot of the first batting cage and pulled out our phones to ask our trusty friend Google where to go next. She, yes she, seriously we all know Google is a female. She lead us to an indoor batting cage, and I must say it was the best one we’ve visited.

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We arrived at Hit After Hit and it not only had batting cages, but it was an actual sporting good store. We spoke to one of the workers and he informed us that they were having a special on their tokens. We could buy 10 tokens for $20, and each token gave you 16 pitches. Before you start counting that up on your fingers I’ll let you know we each had a total of 160 pitches. There were 7 different batting cages and they each had different speeds. There was absolutely NO WAY we were going into the cages with a 70-90 mph speed! We looked around and decided to try out the 55-60 mph speed, but there was a baseball team using that cage. So we settled upon the SLOWEST cage which was the 35-40 mph.

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Anthony stepped up to the bat first, and I started talking to some of the little boys on the bleachers. They said, “so yall are really going to use the slowest one.” I mean you gotta love their honesty. I said, “yeah you know we’re old so we gotta warm up first lol.” Can you tell I’m gonna be an awesome parent because I’m quick on my feet? I chatted some more with the baseball team, but every time I would look up at Anthony it wasn’t pretty. I mean we all have our strong suits and let’s just say baseball is NOT Anthony’s! I stepped up to the plate and after I realized how slow 35-40 mph was I readjusted myself and was like an old pro. After a few rounds, the baseball team started to end their practice. Their coach gave me some great motivation and told them that the older they got the less excuses the world would let them make.

After the team headed out Anthony and I moved over to the 55-60 mph cage. This was definitely more my speed. While Anthony was in the cage he said, AND I QUOTE, “baseball just isn’t my sport.” Meanwhile every time I stepped to the plate I was like Hank Aaron and swinging for the fences. Anthony was quoted as say, “I can tell you were a great player back in the day.” I mean it feels good to be recognized *pats self on the back*. Remember those 160 pitches I told you we had. Well, Father Time plays not only with your mind, but also your body. We got TIRED and didn’t use all our tokens. We made it through a grueling 128 pitches. We were both out of breath and sweating like crazy!

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Hit After Hit was a really nice facility. It’s opened 7 days a week. When you get finished having fun in the cages you can head back up the steps to do some shopping in their store. The staff is friendly, and they have great quality products!

A few days after our date Anthony and I were both limping around the house. I blurted out, “dude, I don’t know about you, but my butt is sore.” We laughed as we both continued to limp around the house. In A League of Their Own Tom Hanks told us there’s no crying in baseball, but if my backside doesn’t stop hurting there might be some crying soon.

Until next time loves…